Development and disaster risk are closely linked because the people and assets exposed to risk, as well as their vulnerability and capacity, are largely determined by development processes.

Transformation is key to moving from current development patterns that increase, create or unfairly distribute risks, to forms of development that are equitable, resilient and sustainable.

Flooding in Thailand in 2011: it is largely development processes that influence which people are exposed to disasters, suggest the authors. Image credit: Getty/gdagys

The authors carried out a literature review to identify three opportunities that have the potential to transform the relationship between development and disaster risk.

  • exposing development-disaster risk trade-offs in development policy and decision-making
  • prioritizing equity and social justice in approaches to secure resilience, and
  • enabling transformation through adaptive governance.

The research aims to contribute to breaking down barriers in research, policy and practice between the disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and development communities. It also helps to clarify the connections between different global agendas by positioning transformation as a bridging concept to link disconnected policy processes. This paper argues for empirical research to test the opportunities presented and further define transformative pathways at multiple scales.

The article belongs to a special issue of the journal Sustainability, titled Transforming Development and Disaster Risk